Parents vow to make sure Oakleigh School, Whetstone, activities 'stick for good'

Times Series: Parents protesting against the cuts outside Hendon Town Hall yesterday Parents protesting against the cuts outside Hendon Town Hall yesterday

Parents have vowed to fight for the rights of disabled children across the country in the wake of the decision to reverse cuts to disabled play activities.

OOPS, based at Oakleigh School, in Whetstone, fell victim to £38,000 worth of cuts – but the scheme was given a stay of execution after councillors heard impassioned pleas from parents last night.

Barnet Borough Council's children, education, libraries and safeguarding committee agreed to give OOPS a temporary reprieve until March 2015.

Speaking after the meeting, parent Mark Holden-Aikhomu told the Times Series just how much the ten-day summer scheme helps his four-year-old old autistic son, Morgan.

He said: “I hope the councillors go away with a better understanding of our plight and frustrations and what this means to us.

“We’ll be doing all in our power to make sure this sticks for good now. They’ve got nothing and they deserve this much. We have to protect them all we can.

“I hope it sets a precedent now for other councils who try and pull the same stunt. If we hear about something like that, we’ll be down there in a heartbeat fighting for those kids in the same way we have fought for our own.”

The cuts were part of a wider scheme to slash £307,000 from Barnet Borough Council’s short breaks budget, and a further £100,000 for similar programmes.

Earlier this year, activities at Mapledown School, in Claremont Road, Cricklewood, were also given a temporary reprieve after it lost £45,000.

Committee chairman councillor Reuben Thompstone promised to look over the scheme as a whole at the next full council meeting of July 15.

Mark Wyatt, whose son, Charlie, eight, has severe learning difficulties, autism and a type of dyspraxia, also attends the OOPS scheme.

He said: “It’s great, we’re so pleased this has happened. We’ve had the most unimaginable few weeks what with the stress of it all.

“We’ve spent countless hours stressed over this when we should have been caring for our children.

“Now our main priority is protecting it – protecting it for now and protecting it for future generations.”

Labour MP candidate for Finchley Sarah Sackman led the campaign along with the parents. She said: “I feel delighted for the parents – but some are still searching for answers about their children’s schemes.

“We can’t protect these services in a haphazard way - it has got to be consistent.”

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